Unattended cooking--a dangerous business

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

On Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8:51 p.m. Marshall the Fire Department was called to a residence on S. Ravenal Ave. for a report of a stove on fire. A smoke detector had alerted the occupants of the home to the fire. On arrival, according to a MFD report, heavy smoke had filled the house. The home was ventilated by MFD after no fire had been detected and a safe area was established on the scene. Further investigation found no extension of the fire. The damaged stove and burnt pans were carried out of the house without further incident, the report stated.

That was a satisfactory ending considering cooking fires are the leading cause of home fire and fire injuries. Over 600,000 fires are the cause of 700 deaths, 6,500 fire injuries and over $3.7 billion dollars worth of property damage yearly in the United States. A cooking fire ignites every 24 seconds. According to the National Fire Protection Agency 48 percent of home fires and 21 percent of fire deaths are caused by unattended cooking. Two-thirds of home cooking fires start with ignition of food in overheated pans.

Stay onsite and engaged when cooking! Frying is the number one cause of cooking fires due to overheated grease ignition, but grilling, broiling, baking or even boiling food can become a fire ignition source.

There are times when the danger of cooking fires increase. With the holidays approaching it is well to note that Thanksgiving Day is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Holiday celebrations increase the risk of such things as alcohol consumption, which can lead to inattentiveness or sleepiness, two high danger factors for unattended cooking incidents.

If you have a cooking fire – just get out!! Leave the room, close the door behind you, and call 911 or your local fire department after you and those in the house with you are safely out of the area. If the fire involves the oven, turn off the heat and keep the oven door closed.

Always keep a well fitting pan lid near the stove when cooking to smother a small grease fire if one should occur. Slide the lid over the burning pan and once the lid is in place, leave it there. Remember the word “small” in that sentence!

Again, the best thing to do is simply get away from the fire area. Clothing igniting accounts for 18 percent of fire injuries. Fifty-five percent of home cooking fire injuries and deaths occurred when the victims attempted to fight the fire themselves.

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